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"Third, Joffrey and the Queen Regent must renounce all claim to dominion of the North. From this time to the end of time, we are a free and independent kingdom."
Robb Stark gives his terms to Alton Lannister.[src]

The Kingdom of the North is the name given to an independent realm that controlled the northern territories of the continent of Westeros. It is named after the North, one of the nine distinct regions of Westeros and the largest and most prominent in the kingdom. The kingdom was ruled by the King in the North, typically the head of House Stark, from their seat at Winterfell.

The kingdom was first founded by Brandon the Builder after the Long Night, but was conquered during the Targaryen conquest and made subservient to the Iron Throne. It was reestablished upon the proclamation of Robb Stark as the King in the North during the War of the Five Kings, but was again defeated by the Iron Throne. It was reestablished once more with the proclamation of Jon Snow, alleged bastard brother of Robb, as King in the North following the Battle of the Bastards. However, Jon eventually pledged himself to Daenerys Targaryen, thus returning the North back under the fold of the Seven Kingdoms under House Targaryen.

History

Early history

When the First Men crossed the Arm of Dorne from Essos to Westeros, they waged wars against the native peoples of the continent: the Children of the Forest. After thousands of years of warfare, however, the First Men and the Children reached a peace, agreeing to the Pact at the Isle of Faces; the First Men went on to adopt the Old Gods of the Forest worshiped by the Children. 2,000 years later, the Long Night descended upon the world, and the First Men and the Children of the Forest came together to push back the White Walkers in the War for the Dawn. Together, with the giants, they miraculously defeated the White Walkers, and raised the Wall to prevent the White Walkers from returning.

While those trapped beyond the Wall became the Free Folk, those south of the Wall began to come together and form kingdoms. Brandon the Builder raised Winterfell and took it as his seat, becoming the first King of Winter and forging the Kingdom of the North, ruling all the lands north of the Neck. House Stark continued to descend from his line, reigning as the Kings of Winter and later Kings in the North after successfully unifying the lands of the North against rival kings.

2,000 years later, the Andals crossed the Narrow Sea from Andalos and invaded Westeros. Bringing with them chivalry and the Faith of the Seven, the Andals smashed all the kingdoms of the First Men with the exception of the Kingdom of the North, which they made peace with. Thus, the Northmen continues to hold to the culture of the First Men and the religion of the Old Gods while the rest adapted to Andal culture and the Faith of the Seven. During this time, the last of the Children of the Forest and the giants south of the Wall disappeared, the Andals believing them to be evil creatures. Over the centuries, they, like the White Walkers, have faded into legend.

Conquest

The First Men, the Andals, and the Rhoynar that lived in the Principality of Dorne, the southernmost kingdom in Westeros, faced a new common enemy, however: the last of the Dragonlords. The Valyrian Freehold was a massive empire that spanned nearly half of the known world, including the entirety of the continent of Essos across the Narrow Sea. The empire was forged with the Valyrians taming fire-breathing beasts called dragons. They defeated vast empires in Essos, such as the Ghiscari Empire, and the many city-states of the continent. They posed no threat to Westeros, however, until the migration of one Valyrian noble family to an eastern offshore island they called: the Targaryens. Naming it Dragonstone and raising a castle of the same name, the Targaryens narrowly escaped the Doom, an incredible and catastrophic event that destroyed Valyria, ravaged the Valyrian Peninsula, led to the ultimate collapse of the Valyrian Freehold, and killed all of the Valyrian noble families and their dragons, with the exception of the Targaryens.

With Essos largely in ruins and being split into various, independent city-states during the Century of Blood, such as the Free Cities, Aegon Targaryen, the new head of the new House Targaryen, decided to instead look west for his inevitable conquest. Riding the last three dragons in the world with his sister-wives Visenya and Rhaenys, and with a relatively small army, Aegon landed at a point that started the city of King's Landing and went on to conquer the seven independent kingdoms during the War of Conquest, including the Kingdom of the North when Torrhen Stark bent the knee to Aegon. Remembered as Aegon the Conqueror, he unified the Seven Kingdoms into one realm subservient to the Iron Throne, established the Targaryen dynasty, and was named the King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.

First refounding

The Targaryen dynasty was ultimately overthrown nearly three centuries later during Robert's Rebellion with the disposing and deaths of Aerys II, the Mad King, and his eldest son and heir, Prince Rhaegar. Lord Robert Baratheon, the Lord Paramount of the Stormlands and head of House Baratheon, became the new King of the Andals and the First Men and established the Baratheon dynasty. However, the death of King Robert I seventeen years later threw the already destabilizing realm into another great civil war: the War of the Five Kings. Among the five warring kings was Robb Stark, the Young Wolf, who was proclaimed the first King in the North in nearly three centuries by not only his bannermen in the North, but also by the lords of the Riverlands. The Riverlands were ruled by House Tully of Riverrun, who were connected by blood to King Robb through his mother, Catelyn Tully.

The proclamation came about after Robert's heir and alleged son, Joffrey Baratheon, falsely and wrongfully had Eddard Stark, Robb's father, executed for treason. Like the previous Hand of the King, Jon Arryn, Eddard Stark had discovered a shocking secret: Joffrey was in fact a bastard born of incest between Cersei Lannister, King Robert's wife, and her twin brother Jaime Lannister. For this, House Lannister backed King Joffrey I and functionally controlled the Iron Throne for many years. Tywin Lannister, the Lord Paramount of the Westerlands and head of House Lannister, had also led the invasion of the Riverlands when Catelyn Stark had Tyrion Lannister arrested and brought to the Eyrie to stand trial with her sister, Lysa Arryn. The Northmen had come to the aid of the Rivermen when they learned of Eddard Stark's arrest and due to their intertwined bloodlines through marital alliances.

Though the resurgent Kingdom of the North was winning many of its battles, the rebellion was ultimately put down at the Red Wedding, where two bannermen of House Stark and House Tully turned on their liege lords and fellow countrymen and slaughtered them: House Bolton of the Dreadfort and House Frey of the Twins. Arranged in secret by Tywin Lannister, he oversaw that Roose Bolton was named the new Lord Paramount of the North and granted Winterfell while Walder Frey was named the new Lord Paramount of the Riverlands and granted Riverrun. Roose was also married to one of Walder's daughters, Walda Frey.

Second refounding

House Bolton, which had fought against the Starks in ancient times as the Red Kings, unsteadily held the North as many of the Northern houses opposed their rule. Eventually, conflict broke out within House Bolton itself after Walda Frey gave birth to a trueborn son. Roose's bastard son Ramsay had been legitimized by King Tommen I, but the line of succession would now be contested as he was not trueborn. Because of this, Ramsay assassinated his father and murdered Roose Bolton's family, seizing power in the North for himself.

Though Ramsay had the allegiance of House Karstark and an alliance with House Umber, his rule was contested by his runaway wife, Sansa Stark, the sister of Robb. Roose had previously arranged the marriage of Sansa to Ramsay with Petyr Baelish to legitimize Bolton rule over the North. Sansa, along with her resurrected half-brother Jon Snow, who was said to be the bastard son of Eddard Stark, raised a host of Stark loyalists under the banners of House Mormont, House Hornwood, and House Mazin. Jon also had the backing of the Free Folk, whom he had allowed to cross the Wall during his tenure as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Jon led the combined Stark-wildling host at the Battle of the Bastards, which the other Northern houses sat out of, fearing the Boltons and not wanting to risk their men to a lost cause despite their loyalty to the Starks.

Though Jon's army was narrowly smashed by Ramsay's army, Sansa arrived to the battlefield with the knights of the Vale, led by House Arryn, the rulers of the Vale from the Eyrie. Ramsay was executed, and Sansa became the Lady of Winterfell while Jon Snow, the White Wolf, was declared the King in the North by the gathered lords of the North and the Vale at Winterfell.

Jon Snow was primarily concerned with the mysterious return of the White Walkers north of the Wall, which most of Westeros scoffed at, believing the White Walkers to be nothing more than fairy tales. Though his bannermen believed him, Jon's decision to negotiate with Daenerys Targaryen, who had begun her invasion of Westeros to take the Iron Throne from Cersei Lannister, was unpopular as many remembered the tyranny of her father, the Mad King, whom they had fought and overthrown. Nonetheless, Daenerys controlled the mines of dragonglass at Dragonstone, which could be used to kill White Walkers and stop wights, as well as three fire breathing dragons that could also stop wights. Jon departed to White Harbor to sail to Dragonstone with Ser Davos Seaworth and a company of guards, leaving his half-sister Sansa in charge of the North as Lady Regent.

Though initially sharing a tense relationship, Jon and Daenerys grew to trust each other, with Daenerys allowing Jon to mine the dragonglass and coming to have more faith in him over his concern with the White Walkers. Per a proposal put forward by Tyrion Lannister, the Hand to Daenerys, Jon led an expedition beyond the Wall to capture a wight to use as proof at an upcoming parley in King's Landing. Jon and his fellowship succeeded in subduing a wight, though faced heavy losses: several wildling warriors, Thoros of Myr, and Benjen Stark all fell, as well as one of Daenerys's dragons, Viserion, at the hands of the Night King after Daenerys flew to the far north to rescue Jon and his group. For this, Jon pledged himself to Daenerys on a ship to the capital. Once reaching the capital for the Parley in King's Landing, Jon, Daenerys, and their followers met with Cersei Lannister and her retinue at the Dragonpit, where Jon publicly declared that he had pledged himself to Daenerys Targaryen already after Cersei agreed to a truce and in exchange asked for Jon to remain neutral after the Great War. Though negotiations broke down, Tyrion was able to repair the truce, and Cersei pledged her forces to the northern cause (though secretly planned to hold back her armies and let her enemies slaughter each other). Jon, who was appointed Warden of the North by Daenerys, then had a raven sent to Winterfell informing Sansa of this.

Government

The Kingdom of the North is an absolute monarchy intertwined with a system of feudalism. The monarch is referred to as the King in the North, who rules the kingdom from the castle of Winterfell, the capital.

Like their counterparts across Westeros, the Kingdom of the North utilizes feudalism to keep control and order. Lands are ruled by noble houses, who owe their fealty to the King in the North, typically the head of House Stark. In turn, these noble houses may have lesser vassals of their own, ruling over their own sections of land. Unlike their southern counterparts, chivalry is not deeply ingrained in the culture of the North, so knightly houses are a rare find in the kingdom. At the bottom of the social ladder are the smallfolk, or the commoners, who make up the majority of the population of the kingdom.

The King in the North bears no formal titles on their advisors, though the king can indeed host a council and heed the advice of any appointed advisors.

Administrative regions

Map Shield Name Rulers Capital Date absorbed Notes
The North House-Stark-Main-Shield The North House Stark Winterfell 297 AL
(first refounding)

303 AL (second refounding)
Claimed by the Iron Throne; currently fighting for independence
Vale of Arryn House-Arryn-Main-Shield The Vale of Arryn House Arryn The Eyrie 303 AL Claimed by the Iron Throne; currently fighting for independence

Territories

Kingdom of the North post Second Battle of Winterfell

Black: Territory controlled directly by the Night's Watch

Dark green: Territory controlled directly by the King in the North

Light green: Territory claimed by the King in the North

The Kingdom of the North is named after the North, one of the nine distinct regions of the continent of Westeros and by far the largest of the nine. As suggested by its name, the North constitutes the northernmost lands of Westeros south of the Wall; the lands beyond the Wall are not apart of any kingdom.

Historically, the Kingdom of the North was only made up of the region known as the North itself, though the borders of the North were loosely defined; hence why the King in the North was not called the "King of the North."

This was most noticeably seen during the War of the Five Kings, where the region that borders the North to its south, the Riverlands, declared for House Stark and was annexed into the reestablished Kingdom of the North. House Tully of Riverrun continued to rule the Riverlands on behalf of Robb Stark. They were no longer subservient to the Iron Throne, but instead to Winterfell. The Tullys were tied by blood to House Stark through the marriage of Catelyn Tully to Eddard Stark; King Robb was their eldest son. After the Red Wedding, while the North fell to the rule of House Bolton of the Dreadfort, the Riverlands fell to the rule of House Frey of the Twins, both houses ruling on behalf of the Iron Throne.

This took precedent once more in the "aftermath conflicts" of the War of the Five Kings at the Battle of the Bastards. The resurgent Stark army, made up of loyalists as well as the surviving Free Folk who traditionally lived beyond the Wall, was aided by a cavalry force of House Arryn, the rulers of the Vale, which borders the North on its southeastern border. After the battle which saw the defeat and extinction of House Bolton, both the lords of the North and the lords of the Vale declared Jon Snow, bastard brother of King Robb, their King in the North. The Vale and the North had been strong allies for many years, partially thanks to the friendship shared between Jon Arryn and Eddard Stark, who together, alongside Robert Baratheon and Hoster Tully, overthrew the Targaryen dynasty during the War of the Usurper.

Military

Being dominated by the social system known as feudalism, the Kingdom of the North has no permanent, united army that stands behind the King in the North. Rather, individual armies are controlled separately by the noble houses of the North. Despite this, there is a clear chain of command: the King in the North can rally his banners, and in turn, the lords of noble houses can rally the banners of their vassals. Each lord maintains a permanent group of elite knights, warriors, and other guards. Furthermore, the smallfolk, or commoners, of the lands can be conscripted into the Northern armies through feudal levies.

Culture

The modern Northmen continue to practice much of the culture of the First Men and uphold their values, as the Kingdom of the North was the only kingdom not to fall to the Andal invaders. As such, their culture, much like that of the Ironborn and the Dornishmen, is very distinct from the rest of Westeros.

Chivalry is practiced little in the North, with few warriors having been formally anointed as knights. Northern warriors hold onto their own ideas of honor and virtue separate from the knighthood brought over by the Andals. A common belief expressed by Eddard Stark is that "the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword," referring to how Northern lords execute prisoners on their own, and do not rely on a headsman to deliver their justice. Northern warriors are, in general, much more brutish and fearsome than their southern counterparts.

Because of their isolation from the southern kingdoms in large part due to the immense size of the North, the Northerners are very loyal to their own, something that Jon Snow states is in fact similar to the Free Folk, who only follow various chieftains of their own and occasionally their own King-Beyond-the-Wall.

The Northmen continue to hold onto the traditions of their Old Way.

Major religions

Because the First Men held the Kingdom of the North against the Andal invaders, the descending Northmen continued to hold onto their ancestors' culture and religion, worshiping the Old Gods of the Forest that the First Men were said to have adopted from the Children of the Forest thousands of years ago. Nonetheless, intermingling with the Andals in the southern kingdoms also brought over the influence of the Faith of the Seven to the North.

The Old Gods of the Forest

The old nature gods worshiped by the Children of the Forest and later the First Men. Still worshiped by the people of the North and a few isolated others, particularly ancient noble houses, in the south of Westeros. The old gods are numerous and nameless. Prayers and offerings are made to the old gods in front of heart trees; great weirwood trees with faces carved into the bark. Its followers believe that the Old Gods can see through the heart trees, which caused the Andals to cut down most heart trees in southern Westeros. The faith of the Old Gods of the Forest is the dominant religion worshiped by the majority in the Kingdom of the North.

The Faith of the Seven

The Faith of the Seven was brought to Westeros by the Andals. The Faith contends there is one god consisting of seven separate aspects: the Mother, the Father, the Warrior, the Smith, the Maiden, the Crone, and the Stranger. People worship the Seven in seven-sided churches called septs and are led in worship by priests and priestesses known as "septons" and "septas". The Faith is not only a belief system but also an institution led by the High Septon from the Great Sept of Baelor in King's Landing. The Faith has traditionally not been very tolerant of other religions but this was relaxed somewhat after centuries of coexistence with the remaining followers of the Old Gods and the Drowned God.

When the Rhoynar migrated to Dorne a thousand years ago they converted to the Faith of the Seven, but often simply ignored rules they didn't like. The modern Dornishmen have somewhat relaxed sexual mores, attaching no stigma to bastard children, homosexuality, or formal mistresses. While they follow some of the rules of the Faith of the Seven more loosely, however, the Dornishmen are no less devout.

The Faith of the Seven is worshiped by a minority in the Kingdom of the North. The annexation of the Riverlands under Robb Stark and later the Vale under Jon Snow has officially made the religion more widespread in the kingdom, however, though not much more so in the North itself.

See also

References